From 2007 onwards, Sri Lanka has had a strange record in big ICC tournaments – it reaches the finals and then loses. With the exception of the 2007 and 2010 T20 World Cups and the 2009 Champions Trophy, where they did not make it to the finals, Sri Lanka has maintained this dubious tradition. While reaching the final in global events is no mean feat, quite inexplicable is the way the team has contrived to throw away its hard work and dedication in the matches that matter. However, Sri Lanka will be looking to correct this record and since this is the shorter format, where it normally plays well, the team may as well be able to pull it off this time.
On paper Sri Lanka, like all the other teams, looks like a well balanced set-up with several multi-dimensional players in the team. The batting is helmed by captain Angelo Mathews and features big names like Dinesh Chandimal, Tillekratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Jeevan Mendis, Kumar Sangakkara, and Lahiru Thirimanne. It helps that players like Mathews, Dilshan and Mendis are more than capable with the ball. This lends some much needed balance to the side that could well make or break the side’s chances in the tournament.
Sri Lanka has a very good seam bowling line up led by Nuwan Kulasekara and Lasith Malinga and featuring Shaminda Eranga, Thisara Perera and Chanaka Welegedera. They will be well supported by the experienced Rangana Herath and Sachitra Senanayake. Thisara Perera is an extremely crucial player for the Lankan scheme of things because of his ability to contribute sizeable runs at a quick clip for the team. Malinga and Eranga will play critical roles with their extra pace – much will especially depend on Malinga, widely acknowledged as one of the best death bowlers of the game these days. Kulasekara, with his control, will be playing the role of a holding bowler but can play an attacking role if required.
Unlike the other Asian sides in the tournament, Sri Lanka will score in one area – fielding. Their fielding has generally been up there with teams like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. This will be a major area of strength for them.
Sri Lanka’s recent one day form has been patchy – it was unable to win all the one day matches against Bangladesh on its home turf while against Australia it was able to surprise the former world champs on their own backyard. It remains to be seen which Sri Lanka shows up at this year’s Champions Trophy.
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